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Venus Now Wakes, and Wakens Love

Venus Now Wakes, and Wakens Love by William Etty

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Russian man volunteers for first human head transplant

While severing someone’s head and attaching it to another person’s body sounds like something straight out of a science fiction or horror movie, some real-life scientists say they are planning to do just that – as early as next year.

Italian neuroscientist Dr. Sergio Canavero made headlines last year when he announced his plans to perform the first human head transplant in 2017. Since then, he’s recruited Chinese surgeon Dr. Xiaoping Ren to work with him, and now has found a volunteer patient for the procedure: a Russian man named Valery Spiridonov.

Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig-Hoffmann Disease, a rare and often fatal genetic disorder that breaks down muscles and kills nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that help the body move. Spiridonov is confined to a wheelchair; his limbs are shriveled and his movements essentially limited to feeding himself, typing, and controlling his wheelchair with a joystick.

In its September issue, The Atlantic profiles Spiridonov and the two scientists who hope to perform the experimental – and highly controversial – procedure.

“Removing all the sick parts but the head would do a great job in my case,” Spiridonov told the magazine. “I couldn’t see any other way to treat myself.”

Many scientists have spoken out against Canavero and Ren’s plans, accusing them of promoting junk science and creating false hopes. One critic went so far as to say the scientists should be charged with murder if the patient dies, a very likely outcome.

Canavero has published detailed plans for the procedure, which has been successfully tested in mice, in several papers published in the journal Surgical Neurology International.

First, like with other organ transplants, he and his team would need a suitable donor. This procedure would require a body from a young brain-dead male patient.

Once permission from the family is granted, the surgeons would set the body up for surgical decapitation.

At the same time, Spiridonov would be brought in and another surgical team would cool his body to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This would delay tissue death in the brain for about an hour, meaning the surgeons would need to work quickly.

Using a transparent diamond blade, they would then remove both patients’ heads from their bodies, ultimately severing their spinal cords at the same time.

A custom-made crane would be used to shift Spiridonov’s head – hanging by Velcro straps – onto the donor body’s neck. The two ends of the spinal cord would then be fused together with a chemical called polyethylene glycol, or PEG, which has been shown to promote regrowth of cells that make up the spinal cord. wala pa te now pa nku nkit an sexual front net ni te te ging kung maghimo ko og bag o na folder sa new na computer te vah kay mkaccess nku bccen hinay. sa acer kay acer c man sa bag o te The muscles and blood supply from the donor body would then be joined with Spiridonov’s head, and he would be kept in a coma for three to four weeks to prevent movement as he healed. Implanted electrodes would be used to stimulate the spinal cord to strengthen new nerve connections.

Canavero has said the transplant – which would require 80 surgeons and cost tens of millions of dollars if approved – would have a “90 percent plus” chance of success.

Yet many in the scientific community strongly disagree.

“It is both rotten scientifically and lousy ethically,” Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, wrote in an article for Forbes last year.

Dr. Jerry Silver, a neuroscientist at Case Western Reserve whose work on repairing spinal cord injuries was cited by Canavero, told CBS News in 2013 that the proposed transplant is “bad science. This should never happen.”

“Just to do the experiments is unethical,” he added.

Even in the unlikely event that the surgery worked, it raises further, uncharted ethical concerns.

For example, Canavero is presuming that transplanting Spiridonov’s head and brain onto another body would automatically transplant his whole self with his mind, personality, and consciousness. But it’s not that simple, as Anto Cartolovni and Antonio Spagnolo, two Italian bioethicists, pointed out in a letter to Surgical Neurology International after Canavero’s paper was published last year.

“Despite his [Canavero’s] vision, modern cognitive science shows that our cognition is an embodied cognition, in which the body is a real part in the formation of human self,” they write. “Therefore, the person will encounter huge difficulties to incorporate the new body in its already existing body schema and body image that would have strong implications on human identity.”

Furthermore, if Spiridonov were to reproduce with his new body, his children would not have his genetic makeup but that of the donor’s. What kind of rights, then, might the donor’s family have to the offspring?

Finally, Cartolovni and Spagnolo argue that because of the uncertainty of the operation, such a procedure would take away vital donor organs that could have been used for someone else who needed a heart or a liver transplant to save their lives.

If approved, the procedure would likely take place in China or another country outside of Europe or the United States, The Atlantic reports, as it would not be approved in the Western world.

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The world is full of multimillionaires who can't handle money. Because, if you have money, you either start building your own kingdom, or it's useless.

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ME BEFORE YOU: AN INFOMERCIAL FOR ASSISTED SUICIDE

Dodge this romantic drama with a depressing pay-off.

SPIKED

Why do we celebrate (and in some places, actively assist) what can only rationally be regarded as a self-centred and cowardly decision to destroy oneself?

The film Me Before You, released last Friday, would have been a fairly standard romantic weepie, except for — SPOILER ALERT — its inclusion of suicide. Will Traynor, a ridiculously rich, successful and stupidly handsome fellow, has an accident that renders him quadriplegic. His mother hires a companion — an annoyingly ditzy, wacky with a capital W, working-class girl, for whom Will would ordinarily be strictly out of bounds — who manages to cheer Will up and, lo, they fall in love. Then Will kills himself. At a Dignitas clinic. Because apparently he is a determined guy. He leaves her some money.

At one level, of course, the film is artistic expression (I use the word artistic loosely), absolutely free to say whatever it wants. Yet the film is not only bad art; it’s also propaganda for the so-called right to die. The author of the novel on which the film is based (and the script), Jo Jo Moyes, continues to protest that it is only about an individual, and that it is not ‘by any means’ sending out a message. But, in the same breath, she insists that ‘unless you put yourself in somebody’s shoes, I think you shouldn’t judge their action’, and says this is about ‘autonomy and choice’.

The sophomoric presentation of the issue at the heart of the film might have been lifted from a GCSE Ethics and Philosophy textbook on the case for the right to die. The family is upset about Will’s decision. Mother tearfully resists and tells him to wait; father is grimly resigned because it’s Will’s decision and he must be able to make it. Girlfriend tearfully upset but finally accepting. All accept his decision and are at Will’s deathbed at Dignitas’s beautiful Swiss chalet (in reality, it is a grim house in a Swiss industrial park).

The protests by disabled people outside cinemas showing Me Before You are completely understandable. Will’s rejection of his life, his refusal to live hampered by disability, is a direct insult to those who do so every day. The film presents Will as determined and courageous, belying the fact that disabled people struggle and suffer with lives beset by disabilities, choosing to live. Which is more courageous — to die, to be defeated by one’s disabilities, to bail out; or to continue suffering and battling past whatever barriers are put in the way, to continue to live?

No one seems to know any more. This is why this same plotline features in so many TV and filmic dramas. Real suicides are usually tragic, often sordid and always awful. But suicide as a plot device allows the author to weigh the value of continued existence against the ends that the character killing him or herself seeks.

What is weighed up in these modern dramas about assisted suicide? On one scale, Will’s life is mere existence, increasingly meaningless, adrift, dependent on others, helpless, pointless, isolated, and devoid of any pleasure. On the other scale are the last vestiges of his social existence, his being as a son, lover, and friend. Me Before You is the opposite of life-affirming; it reassures the audience that giving up is okay. It’s the equivalent of George Bailey jumping into the icy waters and everyone standing around saying ‘Yeah, nice one, mate’, somewhat changing the end of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Such a view perverts the relationship between the individual and his community and indicates the erosion of a general moral sense of right and wrong. Paradoxically, suicide must be an option if a community is to be made up of free individuals, but the community has an interest in preventing the purposeful destruction of any of its members, no matter that the killer and victim are one and the same. Contra Moyes’ sentiments, we must judge whether the taking of a life is understandable in the circumstances, whether it is praiseworthy or blameworthy. But it is a good general rule that killing — even oneself — is wrong.

These dramas highlight the fact that no one seems sure that human existence is worth it. Few seem confident enough to assert moral rules; there is no more right and wrong, only ‘right for you’ and ‘right for me’.

In the end, films like this tap into the anxiety and uncertainty that many feel about the future. What if I was paralysed? Would I want to die? Moyes mentioned that she was inspired to write the book after hearing about the case of Daniel James, the paralysed rugby player who killed himself at Dignitas a few years ago.

More inspiring but less well-known is the example of Matt Hampson, who was paralysed from the neck down 11 years ago. He told his father that the injury would make him a better person. Matt didn’t believe that himself at first, but said last year that he is beginning to believe it after launching the Matt Hampson Foundation, which helps people with life-altering injuries.

Instead of paying money to see a mediocre infomercial for the right to die, why not donate that money to the Matt Hampson Foundation instead?

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Khmer Rouge terror in Cambodia

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Richard Dawkins on vivisection: "But can they suffer?"

The great moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham, founder of utilitarianism, famously said,'The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" Most people get the point, but they treat human pain as especially worrying because they vaguely think it sort of obvious that a species' ability to suffer must be positively correlated with its intellectual capacity. Plants cannot think, and you'd have to be pretty eccentric to believe they can suffer. Plausibly the same might be true of earthworms. But what about cows?

What about dogs? I find it almost impossible to believe that René Descartes, not known as a monster, carried his philosophical belief that only humans have minds to such a confident extreme that he would blithely spreadeagle a live mammal on a board and dissect it. You'd think that, in spite of his philosophical reasoning, he might have given the animal the benefit of the doubt. But he stood in a long tradition of vivisectionists including Galen and Vesalius, and he was followed by William Harvey and many others (See from which this picture is taken).

How could they bear to do it: tie a struggling, screaming mammal down with ropes and dissect its living heart, for example? Presumably they believed what came to be articulated by Descartes: that non-human animals have no soul and feel no pain.

Most of us nowadays believe that dogs and other non-human mammals can feel pain, and no reputable scientist today would follow Descartes' and Harvey's horrific example and dissect a living mammal without anaesthetic. British law, among others, would severely punish them if they did (although invertebrates are not so well protected, not even large-brained octopuses). Nevertheless, most of us seem to assume, without question, that the capacity to feel pain is positively correlated with mental dexterity - with the ability to reason, think, reflect and so on. My purpose here is to question that assumption. I see no reason at all why there should be a positive correlation. Pain feels primal, like the ability to see colour or hear sounds. It feels like the sort of sensation you don't need intellect to experience. Feelings carry no weight in science but, at the very least, shouldn't we give the animals the benefit of the doubt?

Without going into the interesting literature on Animal Suffering (see, for instance, Marian Stamp Dawkins's excellent book of that title, and her forthcoming Rethinking Animals), I can see a Darwinian reason why there might even be be a negative correlation between intellect and susceptibility to pain. I approach this by asking what, in the Darwinian sense, pain is for. It is a warning not to repeat actions that tend to cause bodily harm. Don't stub your toe again, don't tease a snake or sit on a hornet, don't pick up embers however prettily they glow, be careful not to bite your tongue. Plants have no nervous system capable of learning not to repeat damaging actions, which is why we cut live lettuces without compunction.

It is an interesting question, incidentally, why pain has to be so damned painful. Why not equip the brain with the equivalent of a little red flag, painlessly raised to warn, "Don't do that again"? In The Greatest Show on Earth

I suggested that the brain might be torn between conflicting urges and tempted to 'rebel', perhaps hedonistically, against pursuing the best interests of the individual's genetic fitness, in which case it might need to be whipped agonizingly into line. I'll let that pass and return to my primary question for today: would you expect a positive or a negative correlation between mental ability and ability to feel pain? Most people unthinkingly assume a positive correlation, but why?

Isn't it plausible that a clever species such as our own might need less pain, precisely because we are capable of intelligently working out what is good for us, and what damaging events we should avoid? Isn't it plausible that an unintelligent species might need a massive wallop of pain, to drive home a lesson that we can learn with less powerful inducement?

At very least, I conclude that we have no general reason to think that non-human animals feel pain less acutely than we do, and we should in any case give them the benefit of the doubt. Practices such as branding cattle, castration without anaesthetic, and bullfighting should be treated as morally equivalent to doing the same thing to human beings.

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Women were created from a bone of man. Or was that a boner?

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The United States Is Committing Brutal Acts of Torture Right Now

The grisly details of CIA torture have finally been at least partly aired through the release of the executive summary to a landmark Senate intelligence committee report. The extent of the torture has been covered extensively across the media, and is horrifying. But much of the media coverage of this issue is missing the crucial bigger picture: the deliberate rehabilitation of torture under the Obama administration, and its systematic use to manufacture false intelligence to justify endless war.

Torture victims, who had been detained by the US national security apparatus entirely outside any sort of recognizable functioning system of due process, endured a litany of extreme abuses normally associated with foreign dictatorships: 180-hour sleep deprivation, forced "rectal feeding," rectal "exams" using "excessive force," standing for dozens of hours on broken limbs, waterboarding, being submerged in iced baths, and on and on.

Yet for the most part, it has been assumed that the CIA's "enhanced interrogation program" originated under the Bush administration after 9/11 and was a major "aberration" from normal CIA practice, as one US former military prosecutor put it in the Guardian. On BBC Newsnight yesterday, presenter Emily Maitlis asked Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser under Carter, about the problem of "rogue elements in the CIA," and whether this was inevitable due to the need for secrecy in intelligence.

High-level sanction

Media coverage of the Senate report has largely whitewashed the extent to which torture has always been an integral and systematic intelligence practice since the second World War, continuing even today under the careful recalibration of Obama and his senior military intelligence officials. The key function of torture, largely overlooked by the pundits, is its role in manufacturing nebulous threats that legitimize the existence and expansion of the national security apparatus.

The CIA's post-9/11 torture program was formally approved at the highest levels of the civilian administration. We have known for years that torture was officially sanctioned by at least President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA directors George Tenet and Michael Hayden, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Yet the focus on the Bush administration serves a useful purpose. While the UN has called for prosecutions of Bush officials, Obama himself is excused on the pretext that he banned domestic torture in 2009, and reiterated the ban abroad this November.

Even Dan Froomklin of the Intercept congratulated the November move as a "win" for the "good guys." Indeed, with the release of the Senate report, Obama's declaration that he has ended "the CIA's detention and interrogation program" has been largely uncritically reported by both mainstream and progressive media, reinforcing this narrative.

Rehabilitating the torture regime

Yet Obama did not ban torture in 2009, and has not rescinded it now. He instead rehabilitated torture with a carefully crafted Executive Order that has received little scrutiny. He demanded, for instance, that interrogation techniques be made to fit the US Army Field Manual, which complies with the Geneva Convention and has prohibited torture since 1956.

But in 2006, revisions were made to the Army Field Manual, in particular through 'Appendix M', which contained interrogation techniques that went far beyond the original Geneva-inspired restrictions of the original version of the manual. This includes 19 methods of interrogation and the practice of extraordinary rendition. As pointed out by US psychologist Jeff Kaye who has worked extensively with torture victims, a new UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) review of the manual shows that a wide-range of torture techniques continue to be deployed by the US government, including isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, chemically-induced psychosis, adjustments of environmental and dietary rules, among others.

Indeed, the revelations contained in the Senate report are a mere fraction of the totality of torture techniques deployed by the CIA and other agencies. Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born and raised in Germany who was detained in Guantanomo for five years, has charged that he had been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement, repeated beatings, water-dunking, electric shock treatment, and suspension by his arms, by US forces.

On Jan. 22, 2009, retired Admiral Dennis Blair, then Obama's director of national intelligence, told the Senate intelligence committee that the Army Field Manual would be amended to allow new forms of harsh interrogation, but that these changes would remain classified:

"We have large amounts of unclassified doctrine for our troops to use, but we don't put anything in there that our enemies can use against us. And we'll figure it out for this manual... there will be some sort of document that's widely available in an unclassified form, but the specific techniques that can provide training value to adversaries, we will handle much more carefully."

Obama's supposed banning of the CIA's secret rendition programs was also a misnomer. While White House officials insisted that from now on, detainees would not be rendered to "any country that engages in torture," rendered detainees were already being sent to countries in the EU that purportedly do not sanction torture, where they were then tortured by the CIA.

Obama did not really ban the CIA's use of secret prisons either, permitting indefinite detention of people without due process "on a short-term transitory basis."

Half a century of torture as a system

What we are seeing now is not the Obama administration putting an end to torture, but rather putting an end to the open acknowledgement of the use of torture as a routine intelligence practice.

But the ways of old illustrate that we should not be shocked by the latest revelations. Declassified CIA training manuals from the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s, prove that the CIA has consistently practiced torture long before the Bush administration attempted to legitimize the practice publicly.

In his seminal study of the subject, A Question of Torture, US history professor Alfred W. McCoy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison proves using official documents and interviews with intelligence sources that the use of torture has been a systematic practice of US and British intelligence agencies, sanctioned at the highest levels, over "the past half century." Since the second World War, he writes, a "distinctive US covert-warfare doctrine... in which psychological torture has emerged as a central if clandestine facet of American foreign policy."

The psychological paradigm deployed the CIA fused two methods in particular, "sensory disorientation" and so-called "self-inflicted pain." These methods were based on intensive "behavioural research that made psychological torture NATO's secret weapon against communism and cognitive science the handmaiden of state security."

"From 1950 to 1962," McCoy found, "the CIA became involved in torture through a massive mind-control effort, with psychological warfare and secret research into human consciousness that reached a cost of a billion dollars annually."

The pinnacle of this effort was the CIA's Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation handbook finalized in 1963, which determined the agency's interrogation methods around the world. In the ensuing decade, the agency trained over a million police officers across 47 countries in torture. A later incarnation of the CIA torture training doctrine emerged under Freedom of Information in the form of the 1983 Human Resources Training Exploitation Manual.

Power... and propaganda

One of the critical findings of the Senate report is that torture simply doesn't work, and consistently fails to produce meaningful intelligence. So why insist on its use? For McCoy, the addiction to torture itself is a symptom of a deep-seated psychological disorder, rather than a rational imperative: "In sum, the powerful often turn to torture in times of crisis, not because it works but because it salves their fears and insecurities with the psychic balm of empowerment."

He is right, but in the post-9/11 era, there is more to the national security apparatus' chronic torture addiction than this. It is not a mere accident that torture generates vacuous intelligence, yet continues to be used and justified for intelligence purposes. For instance, the CIA claimed that its torture of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) led to the discovery and thwarting of a plot to hijack civilian planes at Heathrow and crash them into the airport and buildings in Canary Wharf. The entire plot, however, was an invention provoked by torture that included waterboarding, "facial and abdominal slaps, the facial grab, stress positions, standing sleep deprivation" and "rectal rehydration."

As one former senior CIA official who had read all KSM's interrogation reports told Vanity Fair, "90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit." Another ex-Pentagon analyst said that torturing KSM had produced "no actionable intelligence."

Torture also played a key role in the much-hyped London ricin plot. Algerian security services alerted British intelligence in January 2003 to the so-called plot after interrogating and torturing a "terrorist suspect," former British resident Mohammed Meguerba. We now know there was no plot. Four of the defendants were acquitted of terrorism and four others had the cases against them abandoned. Only Kamal Bourgass was convicted after he murdered Special Branch Detective Constable Stephen Oake during a raid. Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has also blown the whistle on how the CIA would render "terror suspects" to the country to be tortured by Uzbek secret police, including being boiled alive. The confessions generated would be sent to the CIA and MI6 to be fed into "intelligence" reports. Murray described the reports as "bollocks," replete with false information not worth the "bloodstained paper" they were written on.

Many are unaware that the 9/11 Commission report is exactly such a document. Nearly a third of the report's footnotes reference information obtained from detainees subject to "enhanced" interrogation by the CIA. In 2004, the commission demanded that the CIA conduct "new rounds of interrogations" to get answers to its questions. As investigative reporter Philip Shennon pointed out in Newsweek, this has "troubling implications for the credibility of the commission's final report" and "its account of the 9/11 plot and al-Qaeda's history." Which is why lawyers for the chief 9/11 mastermind suspects now say after the release of the Senate report that the case for prosecution may well unravel.

That torture generates false information has long been known to the intelligence community. Much of the CIA's techniques are derived from reverse-engineering Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training, where US troops are briefly exposed in controlled settings to abusive interrogation techniques used by enemy forces, so that they can better resist treatment they might face if they are captured. SERE training, however, adopted tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting false confessions for propaganda purposes, according to a Senate Armed Services Committee report in 2009.

Torture: core mechanism to legitimize threat projection

By deploying the same techniques, the intelligence community was not seeking to identify real threats; it was seeking to manufacture threats for the purpose of justifying war. As David Rose found after interviewing "numerous counterterrorist officials from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic," their unanimous verdict was that "coercive methods" had squandered massive resources to manufacture "false leads, chimerical plots, and unnecessary safety alerts." Far from exposing any deadly plots, torture led only to "more torture" of supposed accomplices of terror suspects "while also providing some misleading 'information' that boosted the administration's argument for invading Iraq." But the Iraq War was not about responding to terrorism. According to declassified British Foreign Office files, it was about securing control over Persian Gulf oil and gas resources, and opening them up to global markets to avert a portended energy crisis.

In other words, torture plays a pivotal role in the Pentagon's posture of permanent global war: generating spurious overblown intelligence that can be fed-in to official security narratives of imminent terrorist threats everywhere, in turn requiring evermore empowerment of the security agencies, and legitimizing military expansionism in strategic regions.

The Obama administration is now exploiting the new Senate report to convince the world that the intelligence community's systematic embroilment in torture was merely a Bush-era aberration that is now safely in the past.

Do not be fooled. Obama has rehabilitated and recalibrated the covert torture apparatus, and is attempting to leverage the torture report's damning findings to claim moral high ground his administration doesn't have. The torture regime is alive and well, but it has been put back in the box of classified secrecy to continue without public scrutiny.

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Once islamic terror organizations will have discovered the power of arson, they will win any war. Setting forests on fire is low risk for attackers and inflicts maximum damage.

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ISIS is pursuing use of chemical weapons with the help of scientists: officials

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials.

Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris. On Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that Islamic extremists might at some point use chemical or biological weapons.

U.S. intelligence officials don’t believe ISIS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons like nerve gas that are most suited for a terrorist attack on a civilian target. So far the group has used mustard gas on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

But Iraqi officials expressed concern that the large safe haven the extremists control since overrunning parts of Iraq and Syria last year has left Iraqi authorities largely in the dark over the ISIS program.

“They now have complete freedom to select locations for their labs and production sites and have a wide range of experts, both civilians and military, to aid them,” a senior Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press.

The official, like others from the Iraqi and U.S. intelligence agencies who have first-hand knowledge of the ISIS chemical weapons program, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive information.

So far, the only overt sign of the group’s chemical weapons program has been the apparent use of mustard gas against Iraqi Kurdish fighters and in Syria. In mortars that hit Kurdish forces in northern Iraq earlier this year, preliminary tests by the U.S. showed traces of the chemical agent sulfur mustard.

Iraqi authorities clearly fear the use could be expanded. Over the summer, Iraq’s military distributed gas masks to troops deployed west and north of Baghdad, one general told the AP. A senior officer in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, said 25% of the troops deployed there were equipped with masks.

More recently, Iraq's military received from Russia 1,000 protective suits against chemical attacks, said Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the Iraqi parliament's security and defense committee.

ISIS has set up a branch tasked with pursuing chemical weapons, according to a senior Iraqi military intelligence officer and two officials from another Iraqi intelligence agency. They wouldn’t give details of the program, including how many personnel it is believed to have or its budget.

But al-Zamili, citing intelligence reports he has access to, told the AP that the group has managed to attract chemical experts from abroad as well as Iraqi experts, including ones who once worked for Saddam Hussein’s now-dissolved Military Industrialization Authority. The foreigners include experts from Chechnya and southeast Asia, the Iraqi intelligence officials said.

ISIS recently moved its research labs, experts and materials from Iraq to “secured locations” inside Syria, al-Zamili added — apparently out of concern of an eventual assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, captured by ISIS in the summer of 2014.

“Daesh is working very seriously to reach production of chemical weapons, particularly nerve gas,” al-Zamili said, using an Arabic acronym for the group. “That would threaten not just Iraq but the whole world.”

Still, U.S. intelligence officials say they don’t believe ISIS has the technological capability to produce nerve gas or biological agents, and that the militants were more likely to harm themselves trying to make them. A European official privy to intelligence on the extemist group’s programs agreed, saying so far even ISIS production of mustard gas was in small quantities and of low quality.

Retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zahner, who was the top American military intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and went on to lead the National Security Agency’s electronic spying arm, noted that al Qaeda tried for two decades to develop chemical weapons and didn’t succeed, showing the technical and scientific difficulties.

However, he said, U.S. intelligence agencies have consistently underestimated the Islamic State group, which has shown itself to be more capable and innovative than al Qaeda and has greater financial resources. Given that and its inheritance of Saddam-era experts, he said, it could realistically reach a “limited” program for battlefield uses.

“Even a few competent scientists and engineers, given the right motivation and a few material resources, can produce hazardous industrial and weapons-specific chemicals in limited quantities,” Zahner said.

Developing chemical weapons has been an ambition of the group — and various other jihadi movements — for years.

In a 2013 report on the Islamic State group’s weapons procurement efforts, a senior deputy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wrote of “significant progress” toward producing chemical weapons, according to two senior officials who had access to the document after it was obtained by Iraqi intelligence.

In it, the deputy, Sameer al-Khalifawy, wrote that chemical weapons would ensure “swift victory” and “terrorize our enemies.” But, he added, what was needed was “to secure a safe environment to carry out experiments.”

Al-Khalifawy was killed by rebels in Syria in early 2014, just months before ISIS overran Mosul and much of northern and western Iraq, linking that territory to the stretches of northern and eastern Syria it controlled and declaring itself a “caliphate.”

In May 2013, Iraqi security forces, acting on a tip from the Americans, raided a secret chemical weapons research lab in Baghdad’s Sunni-majority district of al-Doura, the Iraqi intelligence officials said. Security forces arrested two militants running the lab, Kefah Ibrahim al-Jabouri, who held a master’s degree in chemistry, and Adel Mahmoud al-Abadi, who has a bachelor’s degree in physics and worked at Saddam’s Military Industrialization Authority before it was disbanded in 2003.

The Iraqi officials said the two men were working with al-Baghdadi, citing ISIS correspondence they seized from al-Jabouri. Other international officials disputed this, however, saying the men were not connected with the group.

Iraqi officials complained of lack of cooperation from neighboring Syria.

They cited the case of a veteran Iraqi jihadist and weapons expert, Ziad Tareq Ahmed, who fled to Syria after Iraqi security agents raided his Baghdad home in 2010 and arrested members of his cell. The agents found large amounts of material that could be used for making mustard gas.

Ahmed, who has a master’s degree in chemistry and has worked with several Islamic militant groups without formally joining any, was arrested by the Syrians last year. The Syrian government allowed Iraqi officals to interrogate him in prison but refused to hand him over. Then last month, they released him, two Iraqi intelligence officials said.

“This is a very grave development,” said one of the officials, who heads one of Iraq’s top counterterrorism agencies. “His release adds significantly to our concerns.”

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It is the secret dream of every Swedish or German woman to marry a black men, or at least have sex with a black man. Every smart young African man should migrate to Europe. Free money, nice house, good sex!

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Got the balls? Men are super-sizing their testicles with this bizarre new procedure

Daily Star

Most lads worry about the look and feel of their penis, which can make them less confident in the sack. But now men are shifting attention away from their schlongs and towards their scrotums.

A certain testicle-boosting injection is the latest cosmetic surgery fad that lads are flocking to have – and forking over £2,800 in the process.

The procedure involves squirting botox into the scrotum – leading the trend to be dubbed “scrotox” and “balltox” – in a bid to get a lower hanging and more relaxed-looking ballsack.

Scrotox doesn’t just decrease sweating and reduce the wrinkled appearance of lads’ testicles, it also boosts their size.

It seems men are paying more and more attention to their looks and the number of guys going under the knife in the quest for beauty has doubled in the last decade.

But scrotox isn’t the only bizarre cosmetic operation to hit the market, with men also seeking to increase their girth down below by injecting their own fat into their schlongs.

The procedure takes around 45 minutes and will set you back £4,500 but you have abstain from sex for six weeks to let the penis heal.

As for the results of the manhood makeover, don’t expect to stretch more than one inch wider than you were before.

Speaking exclusively to Dailystar.co.uk, certified plastic surgeon Dr David Alessi explained the long-term effects of the procedure are often less than desirable.

“Unfortunately, upwards of 90% of men are dissatisfied with the results,” he said.

The medic, who founded the Alessi Institutes and Face Forward, a charity offering free procedures for victims of domestic abuse, warned that lads’ obsession with penis size could be a symptom of a serious psychological problem.

He said: “Most men who think they have a small penis actually don’t.

"Studies vary, but research suggests that the average erect penis ranges from under five inches to just under six inches.

“Most men who think their penis is too small have penis dysmorphic syndrome and would be better off seeing a shrink and not a surgeon.”

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Feminism in Europe makes second-generation male Muslim immigrants feel entirely worthless. They will never get a girl. That is why they think that a bomb at least is a painless death.

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Marijuana Is a Natural Aphrodisiac—If You Don't Get Too Dang High

Cannabis is commonly considered a natural aphrodisiac, but is it possible that too much weed could get in the way of getting it on?

A recent query to Leafly, an online encyclopedia of cannabis strains, came from a woman lamenting that her boyfriend couldn't get an erection after consuming a 120-milligram edible one night, and a couple joints the next.

"When we went to have sex everything was heated but he couldn't get an erection. He said he was into it, which I'm inclined to believe, but said he couldn't really feel his nether regions, which is what we attributed the difficulty to," the query read.

In response, Leafly's Ashley Manta, a sexuality educator, hypothesized that the problem came from the edibles. While most budtenders recommend 20 to 35 milligrams for even those with a high tolerance, 120 milligrams could definitely impair functioning for well over 12 hours.

"As with any mood altering substance you can overdose," Betty Dodson, PhD, sexologist and author, told Motherboard. The worst that can happen with a cannabis overdose is you get too tired and fall asleep instead of having sex, she said. Generally though, cannabis can be very positive for sex. "When we smoke marijuana it slows down our brain waves. When it comes to sex, you want to get out of your head and into your body and marijuana really supports that transition." Your taste buds are enhanced, motor senses enhanced, skin more sensitive, and sex organs more easily engorged, Dodson added.

But again, it all depends on dose.

Cannabis has been shown in some scenarios to lower testosterone levels, and lower testosterone may lead to erectile dysfunction. This happens when THC blocks the release of GnRH, a hormone critical for successful reproductive function. Cannabis has also been studied in regard to issues with orgasming, either because of premature ejaculation or the inability to achieve an orgasm. That same study also found that it can inhibit certain receptors in the penis' erectile or cavernous tissue. Another study found marijuana might prevent the nervous system response that helps cause an erection.

However, the inability to get an erection can also be rooted in psychology. If a man is feeling anxious, his reaction to cannabis—and more specifically to whatever strain he's ingested—could either qualm or contribute to his anxiety, which could have negative or positive effects on his ability to relax and get an erection.

In this regard, cannabis can be positive for sex, as in legal states it is often recommended to patients who have anxiety. Other reports suggest that cannabis can help men with stamina in bed.

Still, cannabis has different effects on men and women.

"As many older [heterosexual] couples find, half an hour before intimate time, she should keep smoking and he should stop," author and endocannabinoid researcher Lex Pelger told Motherboard.

As with alcohol, the dosage is crucial in regard to how cannabis affects sexual performance, in this case, specifically in regard to men. If the boyfriend mentioned in the Leafly query had had a smaller edible, he might have been able to get an erection.

And yet, pot has still been helpful for many couples aiming to enhance their sex life. Foria, a weed lube for women, is applied directly to the vagina and aids with sensitivity during sex. Meanwhile, cannabis itself is associated with higher sensitivity and responsiveness to touch and other stimuli.

In one survey, 76 percent of men said cannabis increased their sexual pleasure; 68 percent reported it enhanced their orgasms; and for 39 percent it helped them last longer. Often, women are more likely to feel sexual satisfaction from cannabis, with 90 percent reporting in one study that it enhanced sex in various ways.

In any event, next time you get high before getting down in bed, remember: Your dose could influence your performance and satisfaction.

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America and Europe are evil. Let them self-destruct by fostering sexual hatred. They will kill each other, and the system will kill itself.

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